Wild and Scenic River Project
The Upper Snake Field Office is launching a comprehensive review of its land use management direction for the area. Public input in this process is a critical component. Please provide your input regarding the current projects listed below.
Wild and Scenic Rivers Input — In partnership with the University we are currently collecting information to help determine if segments of the South Fork of the Snake River, and/or the Teton River, and/or tributaries of the Teton River are suitable for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System. To provide your Wild and Scenic Rivers input please click here.
During the summer of 2005, the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Upper Snake Field Office (USFO) began the eligibility phase of a Wild and Scenic Rivers evaluation as part of their Resource Management Plan (RMP) revision process. The evaluation was conducted because the BLM is required by the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to assess river and stream segments under its management jurisdiction as part of its RMP process and this has not been done previously.
The eligibility phase includes identifying eligible rivers and stream segments and assigning a tentative classification (i.e., Wild, Scenic, or Recreational). The USFO has completed the eligibility phase of the Wild and Scenic evaluation process which documents findings. At this time, the USFO is conducting the suitability phase of the wild and scenic rivers evaluation process. Your participation in this process is greatly appreciated. A link to a website administered by the University of Idaho that will gather your input is at the bottom of this page.
What is the purpose of the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System?
The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations (information available here).
Wild and Scenic Rivers Study Process
The wild and scenic rivers study process consists of two main components: 1) Eligibility and 2) Suitability. River or stream segments must be found eligible and suitable to be considered for designation in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, and only Congress or the Secretary of Interior can designate segments.
Eligibility Phase (completed)
To be eligible for designation, a river must be free flowing and contain at least one Outstandingly Remarkable Value (ORV) that is scenic, recreational, geological, fish related, wildlife related, historic, cultural, botanical, hydrological, paleontological, or scientific. During the eligibility phase, the BLM examined river and stream segments within the Upper Snake FO boundaries to identify those segments that either pass through or are bordered by BLM-administered public lands. Once identified, two standard criteria will be applied to determine the eligibility of each segment. To be eligible, a river segment must be free-flowing and possess at least one river-related value considered “outstandingly remarkable,” as defined below:
Free-Flowing: Free flowing means “existing or flowing in a natural condition without impoundment, diversion, straightening, rip-rapping, or other modification of the water” (Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, 16b). Please note:
- A river below a dam or with water diversions can still be eligible
- A river need not be “boatable or floatable” in order to be eligible
- There is no “minimum flow” requirement. Flows are sufficient if they sustain or complement the outstandingly remarkable values for which the segment would be designated. As such, intermittent and ephemeral streams can be eligible.
Outstandingly Remarkable Values: The determination of whether a river area contains “outstandingly remarkable” values is a professional judgment and is documented in the eligibility study report. To be considered as outstandingly remarkable, a river-related value must be a unique, rare, or exemplary feature that is significant at a comparative regional or national scale. While the spectrum of resources that may be considered is broad, all values should be directly river related. That is, they should have the following characteristics:
- Be located in the river or on its immediate shore lands (for the purposes of this study, the preliminary boundary is 0.25-mile on either side of the river)
- Contribute substantially to the functioning of the river ecosystem
- Owe their location or existence to the presence of the river.
Once rivers are considered eligible as a result of applying the free-flowing and outstandingly remarkable criteria, river segments are assigned a tentative classification. Classification categories are Wild, Scenic, or Recreational and are based on the type and degree of human development and access associated with the river and adjacent lands at the time of the inventory. The USFO has completed the eligibility phase. The Wild and Scenic Eligibility Report is available here.
Suitability Phase (occurring now)
The final step in the river study process is the determination of suitability. This step provides the basis for determining which rivers should be recommended for addition to the national system. In this phase, suitability is designed to answer questions and consider other factors for the suitability determination of each river.
The BLM will be completing the suitability phase for all streams found to be eligible during the RMP revision process. Each eligible river segment will be evaluated for suitability or non-suitability to assess whether or not it is a potential candidate for inclusion in the national system. The Draft RMP will incorporate each of the eligible rivers into one or more alternatives. The BLM will then seek public review and comment on the Draft RMP. The Draft EIS will provide an assessment of potential impacts from recommending each river as either suitable or non-suitable. The proposed RMP and final EIS will include final suitability determinations on the eligible rivers. Congressional legislative action is required for actual designation and final classification of suitable river segments.
For further information about the BLM guidance on the Wild and Scenic River process, see the following:
Public outreach during the suitability process is essential. The BLM would like to hear how you, the users, feel about which rivers should be recommended for addition to the national system.
To provide feedback please complete the following two steps:
1) Review the Wild and Scenic Eligibility Report, by clicking here.
The report presents the results of the initial inventory efforts and provides educational materials regarding the wild and scenic river process. Paper or CD copies of the Wild and Scenic Eligibility Report are also available at the USFO (1405 Hollipark Dr., Idaho Falls, ID 83401 or 208-524-7500).
2) Below is a link to a webpage that will ask you about questions and factors pertaining to Wild and Scenic suitability of the South Fork of the Snake River, or the Teton River, or Teton River tributaries. Your participation is voluntary. Information gathered is administered by the University of Idaho.
Click here to provide your comments.
For additional information visit the BLM's Upper Snake Field Office planning website.
If you have questions regarding this project please contact:
1.) Dr. Tammi Laninga or Craig Watt
Department of Conservation Social Sciences
College of Natural Resources, University of Idaho
Moscow, ID (208) 885-7117; email@example.com
2.) Monica Zimmerman, Outdoor Recreation Planner
BLM - Upper Snake Field Office
Idaho Falls, ID; (208) 524-7500; firstname.lastname@example.org